Mono

The opening scene from “Now You’re the Enemy,” one of the most beautiful books of poetry I’ve read. Written by James Allen Hall.

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Landfall

I realize the picture above is bad. It was taken on a flight at the exact moment the pilot warned of turbulence from Hurricane Harvey, passengers and plane already shaking. The storm about to hit Texas at a place called Corpus Christi, which is the name of a real town in the physical world.

So I kept the bad picture I took of the good poem I was reading to show you. The words legible, no matter the storm.

The poem is by Tim Seibles and is called “Delores Epps.” It was presented by the skinniest member of my MFA program at Florida International University during our first class.

I remembered it on the plane after watching “Girls” and made my row get up so I could grab it from the overhead compartment where it lay, unread, neighbored by other people’s back packed belongings. I found a forgotten banana in my carry on, which I ate while I read my poem, wanting to feel the sorrow of being young and not knowing anything but also knowing the exact same amount I still don’t know now. But, it is better not to know at fifteen, better not to know at twenty three, better not to know at thirty three, than now at thirty six. The not knowing of each year always circling, gasping to lift off, but making landfall in a watery mess somewhere by a place the map calls Corpus Christi.

One Art

This week’s “Economist” magazine includes a review of a new biography on one of America’s greatest poets ever: Elizabeth Bishop. 
Highlighted above is one of my favorite Bishop quotes, from her poem “One Art”:
“The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things feel filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster”

Yellow Tomatoes

 

I once thought I could know anything

 

The death knowledge of the Buddha

The clarifying call of Gabriel

Former lives and abetting suns

That enthrall worlds more able than mine

 

I too never doubted my time supply

To be the daughter to the dying father

Who buries without the blow of love regret

 

But my father is dying an excessive death

With a wounded body

That aligns rare moments of life

To the faint efforts of his mind

 

And I do

 

I offer my happy baby’s dance

Ask about our mayor and the bad president

So together

We can wave our related heads with a laugh

 

I bring home the foods he likes to eat

Chocolate sugar-free

A bag of sweet yellow tomatoes

That falls when his good hand forgets to grab

 

And when he insists on phoning my mother

Makes a promise that he won’t speak drink

I dial

 

I do I dance

 

Far from the Buddha knowledge of the giving death

Deaf to the recurring chant of Gabriel

Books by my bed and worlds of grace

That I grasp

But lack the good hand with which to grab

 


 

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